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Ask Tess: How do you prevent honey from crystallizing?

Tess,

I can not remember how my mother, who was born in 1922, kept raw honey from sugaring (crystallizing). Can someone help?

A Reader

Answer:

Although there are external factors such as storage conditions, temperature, relative humidity and the type of container that may influence the tendency of honey to crystallize; sometimes the crystallization process is out of our control.

The tendency of honey to crystallize depends primarily on its glucose content and
moisture level. The overall composition of honey, which includes sugars other
than glucose and more than 180 identified substances such as minerals, acids and
proteins, also influences crystallization.

How to Avoid Honey Crystallization

1. Steady heat during bottling – Holding honey at temperatures in the range of 104-140°F (40-71°C) during bottling also slows the rate of crystallization. Mild heat treatment delays crystallization by dissolving crystals and flash heating to 140-160°F (60-
71°C) dissolves crystals and expels incorporated air (which can also stimulate 
crystallization).
2. Filtering honey – Proper filtering removes particles that might initiate crystallization. Honey with a low glucose-to-water ratio is likely to remain liquid, avoiding crystallization.
3. Low glucose levels in honey – Although most varieties of honey crystallize after 
extracting, those that contain less than 30% glucose, such as tupelo and sage honeys, 
resist granulation.
4. Proper storage environment – Honey can be stored indefinitely [1] but it retains its form better if stored in a cool dry area avoiding sunlight. Honey is sensitive to moisture in the surrounding atmosphere, therefore, it should be kept in a tightly lidded container. For long-term storage, the use of air-tight, moisture-resistant stainless steel drums is recommended. For optimal temperatures to store honey, see below:


(Source [2])

Here is a great article [3] for more information on honey and long term storage.

If you find that your honey has crystallized, don’t throw it out. It can easily turn back to liquid form by slowly warming the container in a pan of warm water. Others say to set it in a warm window to slowly warm.

Tess